Whether you just started a new job working from home or you’re temporarily working out of your home, finding ways to be productive while you work at home can be difficult. And it’s especially hard when you have kids at home with you while you’re working. But working from home with kids isn’t impossible! There are a few simple steps you can take each day to ensure your productivity doesn’t diminish as you’re working from home. Follow these easy tips while you’re working from home while your kids are there.
How to Work from Home While Your Kids are There
Adjust Your Schedule
One of the great things about working from home is that your schedule is often more flexible than it would be a traditional office. If you have the ability to choose your own hours, consider adjusting your schedule to fit your family’s needs. There are a few ways you can adjust your schedule to make working at home with kids work for you:
- Take turns with your partner. If your partner is also working from home, sit down and create a schedule that allows one of you to work for a period of time while the other tends to the kids. And if your partner works outside the home, consider adjusting your schedule so that your work day begins when they get home from work.
- Work while they sleep. Working at home with young children can be especially difficult. Instead of trying to juggle parenting and working at the same time, consider working while your little ones are sleeping. Naptime and bedtime are perfect for working because you can be sure the house will be quiet while you work.
- Time block your day. Breaking your day into time chunks can help improve your productivity and help you enjoy your time working and your family time. It creates a flow that provides structure while also giving some flexibility. I found that time blocking worked well as I worked from home and homeschooled our two kids. In fact, this system gave me the advantage of having one-on-one time with my kids and I was able to work during their periods of free play time and quiet times.
Learn more about Time Block Your Day and get my FREE Time Blocking Worksheets.
Set Some Ground Rules
When you begin working from home, it’s a good idea to lay out some ground rules and create a daily schedule your entire family can stick to. Start by letting your kids know when you’ll be working, and explain what that means for them. Let them know that you’ll need to focus on a variety of tasks throughout the day and that means you won’t be able to take breaks to help them.
Then, outline when your kids can interrupt your work (while you’re answering emails) and when they can’t (when you’re on a phone call or when the door to your office is closed). It’s also important to create a schedule for your family–designated times throughout the day when you’ll be working and times when you can take a break and enjoy some time together as a family.
Communicate with Your Coworkers
If you’re working at home and will be expected to check in with your office from time to time, make sure everyone knows you have kids at home. Talk to your boss about adjusting your schedule to accommodate possible interruptions to your workflow or scheduling conflicts while your kids are at home. And make sure coworkers on video conference calls and phone calls are aware that your kids are at home so they can be prepared for possible background noise or interruptions.
Keep the Kids Entertained
If you can’t adjust your work schedule, you’ll need to find other ways of working at home while the kids are there. To minimize interruptions as you’re working, try to find quiet activities your kids can do while you work. These simple activities are great for keeping your kids occupied:
- Read a book
- Color or draw
- Play educational games on their tablet
- Make a kid-friendly craft
- Build with blocks or LEGOs
- Play with playdough
- Watch a movie
- Make a movie
- Take photos
- Edit photos or movies
- Play a video game
My kids have fond memories of our art box and science box. I kept these boxes stocked and the kids could explore the boxes to do activities they selected on their own. These boxes kept my kids busy and learning while I worked.
Any quiet activity your kids enjoy doing is a great option! Before your kids get started, make sure to let them know they’ll need to play quietly while you’re working.
Take a Break
Breaks are a part of working in a traditional setting, so why not incorporate them into your at-home routine? Taking breaks is a great way for you to refresh and recharge. And it gives your kids a chance to ask you questions, get your help, or simply spend some time with you.
During your breaks, play a quick game with your kids, go for a walk around the neighborhood as a family, or just sit down and talk for a few minutes. These quick breaks are a great way to enjoy some time with your kids and help take care of their needs to prevent an interruption later in the day.
Ask for Help
If you’re constantly finding it difficult to work from home while your kids are there, it may be time to ask for help. In addition to reaching out for help from your significant other, consider others around you who can offer assistance throughout the day. If you have older kids at home, ask them to lend a hand with their siblings while you’re working.
Consider setting up playdates with your kids’ friends for a break throughout the week. Or reach out to a neighbor, babysitter, extended family member, or family friend to arrange care for your kids while you work.
As you are adjusting to working from home, be patient. Finding a balance when we make any new life change takes a bit of time. So, don’t get discouraged as you adjust your family’s routine to find what works. Be sure your kids know that finding the flow is a work in progress as well.
Listen to their thoughts and feelings as your family goes through the initial adjustment. The perfect schedule for one family might not work for another. Adjust and tweak as you fine-tune your perfect work-at-home balance.